Prejudices, and Pride

Many years ago when I was 10, my cousin had a Barbie doll. I found it interesting to see her mix and match different costumes for Barbie. However, since “Dolls were for girls”, I had to pretend that I didn’t like the stuff that much though. Only when there were no one around judging me could I really enjoy being a passionate fashion designer for Barbie.

Growing up a little older, I lost interest in doll. I switched to robot. Yes, since “Robots were for boys”, I could publicly bring them around the house, to my neighbors’ houses, to school — and played with other kids publicly. However, there also came a saying that said “Robots were for kiddos”. With it, the fate of those toys had been predetermined: in the next years, they had better be passed on to my younger cousins.

My favorite megazord from Power Ranger Mystic Force. A new one costs at least 5 millions VND.

A long time had passed since those days, and I still loved playing with those colorful figures. It came to a milestone when my toys were all authentic, which meant much much much more expensive than the ones I’d had years before. Interestingly, everyone knew that kids could hardly afford an authentic collection, yet they never stopped reiterating that my hobby was only for kids.

I struggled with the gender stereotype and survived the hobby-related one. Probably because it’s considered harmless for a grown man to have interest in “toys for boys”.

I wish the story had ended there, but no.

At the beginning of my 22, I had to face with another predicament: “All your friends are in romantic relationship by now, and you’re still here playing those kiddo toys?”

Then eventually the climax in every big family gathering: “You’re a grown-up now. Why don’t you introduce us any girls?”, followed by tons of unspoken assumptions in their heads. You-know-what-it-is.

Prejudices come after another endlessly. I did choose to keep silent and moved on, but they never felt satisfied.

Why do I have to have a girlfriend at my 22? My friends are all in romantic relationship means I have to rush for one? Should I continue to please them this time by revealing my love life, or should I tell them that I don’t want to talk about it? Is it rude to reject those questions directly? What could I do to put a stop on this?

AHHH, so this is exactly the point when the big bang happens!

Well…FYI: Yes, I’ve had romantic relationships, and they were all beautiful ones indeed. Even so, I’m not into sharing about it, or bringing anyone home either. Why?

  1. Those questions probe directly into my personal life, which means: they should not be asked. If someday you happen to notice that I’ve been happy everyday, I’ve been loving myself unconditionally, or I’ve changed to a better version, you can safely conclude that: I’ve found the light of my eyes. That’s good for me.
  2. Ladies and gentlements, I solemly invite you to watch this before we continue (from the beginning to 0:42):
My favorite awkward scene from Sense8 (Netflix Original Series).

“WHAT IS THE PROBLEM, LITO???”

Ignored Lito’s warning, Daniella shouted and stormed into his bedroom.

She stopped short. Hernando, being caught lying naked in Lito’s bed, smiled at her and said gently:

“The problem is, honey, that you don’t have a cock.”

So… Daniella couldn’t become Lito’s girlfriend.

‘Cuz turned out, Lito was Hernando’s boyfriend!

Ooopsie… Busted!

Understand, folks? Second: I am gay.

Therefore, #NoGirlNoCry. Now, it’s the time to sit down, pop some champagne and CHEEERS for the veil having been torn off!

Looking back, the road to finally accept my sexual identity was never an easy one.

Living in a quite conservative family and society, I as a gay man could be considered a black sheep, and constantly confronted the threat of being isolated or even bullied for who I am.

“Faggot. Shame on you!”

“Look at her: short hair, men clothes. Half a man, half a woman. Don’t be like that: a girl must behave like a girl.”

“Being gay is a sickness, dear. It could be spread to one another like a pathogen. Stay away, or you would become like them.”

Those words got on my nerves back then. Why did they have to be so harsh to the senses? I wanted to protest so much, but I didn’t have enough courage. Speaking up meant screwing up the relationship — I was scared of being treated differently. As time passed, I got used to holding my tongue, and often did I find myself sitting nicely on the fence. Of course, that nonchalant attitude couldn’t stop them from confidently repeating and spreading those words, as if they’re so sure about it.

I guess now is the perfect time to sort things out.

1. Is being gay weird?

Many researches have pointed out that homosexual behavior could be found popular across the animal kingdom, and most flowering plants are hermaphroditic. Biodiversity allows things to happen, and happen beautifully. So, it is not “weird” at all for one to be sexually attracted to others of the same sex — according to mother nature.

As they get along, the chemistry starts to develop (lucky for them). The mixed feelings are created by the activity of various kinds of hormones in our bodies. Since the nature of emotions themselves is discrimination-free, it is reasonable to say that the love they share has no gender factor in it, or in other words: what brings men and women together also brings gay people together.

Answer: “Being gay” is not weird. “Gay love” is not weird as well.

At the end of the day, LOVE has no gender.

2. Is being gay a sickness?

Through out history, homosexual relations has been deemed sinful by many religions, punishable by laws, or rumored to be a threat to the development of society. However, those are just bigoted viewpoints.

In April 1952, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) listed homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance” in its diagnostic manual (DSM), and later on got criticized due to the lack of scientific evidence. At the end of 1973, homosexuality was decided to be removed from the list; however, it was not until 1987 could it completely fall out. The World Health Organization (WHO) also followed the act by removing homosexuality from its International Clas­sification of Diseases (ICD) in 1990.

Answer: Being gay is not a sickness. Indeed, being gay is now OK with APA and WHO.

Homosexuality was decided to be removed from the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973.

Read more: When Gay Was Not Okay with the APA: A Historical Overview of Homosexuality and its Status as Mental Disorder

3. What causes those prejudices?

Obviously, “being gay” and “gay love” are considered “sickness” or even “taboos”, because they go against human’s subjective standards.

Labeling others based on subjective standards without sufficient information could lead to disheartening predicaments. For example, have you ever question the usual binary thinking about sex (male/female) or gender (man/woman)? Why other traits like skin color, eyes color, height, weight,…all have more than 2 variants, but not gender, not sex? A story about Intersex people may show us the issue with unconsciously making prejudices by limiting the possible outcome.

According to the ISNA (Intersex Society of North America), Intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, people who has both vagina and balls in their bodies could be called Intersex. Does that concept sound crazy to you? Are they male or female? Are they men or women? Do they need surgeries?

Using gender-neutral pronouns: They, them, theirs when we refer to non-binary people. Photo by Katie Rainbow 🏳️‍🌈 on Unsplash

Honestly, the first time I heard about the term, I immediately labeled it a disease. And what does it mean? That initial act simply implies: I was uneducated about the many possibilities of this world.

It turned out that our usual dichotomous perception towards sex or gender has holes in it.

During my research about Intersex, I came across this TED talk of Emily Quinn. She did give an insightful presentation to help us understand the limit of binary thinking regarding sex or gender:

“The way we think about biological sex is wrong” — A TED Talk of Emily Quinn

Emily nailed the speech. She is an Intersex. She has both vagina and balls in her body, and she is living a happy life. She is fine, and her body is fine, no surgery is needed. Although the story seems strange at first, it is neither weird nor insane at all (Again: ask mother nature).

Therefore, the fit-in problem lies in the definition of “the norm” confined by the boundaries of our tiny boxes. Leaving out the possibilities means losing sight of the bigger picture, and one-sided judging is not a cool act to do.

Answer: The ignorance and subjective “normal” standards are the main causes of those prejudices and bigotries.

4. How to prevent making those prejudices?

During my childhood, I was constantly scoffed: “You played with doll? You are so gay.” By applying their norms on me, combined with their scare tactics, they succeeded in making me quit “toys for girl”, and left me struggling with self-denial through out my adolescence. Instead of questioning their arguments, I accepted them and distorted myself in an attempt to fit in their hearts.

In retrospect, all above-mentioned claims carry so many subjective thoughts on stereotypes and homophobia without being backed up by any solid evidence. The fact that someone has a bee doesn’t mean that she has to stick with long hair. The fact that someone has a bird doesn’t mean that he has to love a woman. Gender identity has nothing to do with biological sex or sexual orientation. The thing that matters is whether or not they are happy living their lives without doing harm — sadly, I had to figure it out myself. Judging others based on our subjective standards only brings us far apart.

We are all Genderbread individuals with no binary options in neither sex nor gender

The predicaments discussed in this writing are just some typical ones that I have faced. Thousands and thousands prejudices out there await being shattered, spanning all aspects. In order to put a stop to the problem, the most effective way is promoting mutual understanding, respect, and love. We all deserve better education about each other, to prevent further unjustified claims and ungrounded accusation being rooted in our beautiful hearts.

The thing that matters is whether or not they are happy living their lives without doing harm. We all deserve better education about each other, to prevent further unjustified claims and ungrounded accusation being rooted in our beautiful hearts.

Answer: Education & Mutual understanding helps.

5. So… am I OK with being gay now?

We are now living in the 21st century, so it’s not cool at all to be stuck with the mindset from the ’50s. Now, as I’m more educated about who I am, I can safely say that being gay is OK. I’m fine, and I hold dear my identity.

Answer: Rise and shine, man!

In a bookstore at the end of 2020, I whispered to my best friend: “Hey dude, I’m gay.”

He seemed surprised, then asked me why I didn’t tell him sooner.

“Umm…Because I’m scared you would stop hanging out with me?”

“Well…” — he sighed with relief — “… then you better stop worrying about that. It will never happen for sure.”

The first time coming out was superb! I sang all the way home, and I slept so well that night. After all those years having been bombarded by the hurtful claims, it finally paid off. Now, I feel really grateful to have a circle of open-minded friends, who always show me support through my early gay life.

The conversation in the bookstore lasted for almost an hour. We dug up our past memories and exchanged our viewpoints deeply on the matter with respect. Extremely relieved — that was how I felt.

A gay friend of mine once said: “A lot of people who laughed at us, they did that because people around them did the same thing. When it happens to the ones they care about, thing changes. And I don’t blame them for that.” Aww… It was one of the most generous acts I’ve ever known. I have to spread that energy.

Instead of making claims that hurt, why don’t we say nice things, and pamper each other with genuine kindness?

Because anyone around you could be gay. Because right at the time you said you hate gay people to your loved one, that being gay was a disease, maybe he or she had already been a part of LGBTQIA+ community. Believe me, I’ve experienced that exact awkward situation not just once, but so many times.

If you really care about them, then it’s better not to “accidentally” create any more unnecessary burdens. If you really love them, then please provide them the help they need to be out of their closets. Simply because it is the right thing to do.

Right at the time you said you hate gay people to your loved one, that being gay was a disease, maybe he or she had already been a part of LGBTQIA+ community.

A beautiful coming out experience of a gay Italian guy (The conversation starts at 1:15).

Love is always there but acceptance takes time to develop. I hope that, even if their being gay goes against your personal standards, you would still choose to support them unconditionally like before, because we are all free to choose whom to love.

We are all free to choose whom to love.

For those out there who are still in your closet: Bear that in mind. Understand better what really matters in your life. Give people a chance to touch your soul. Be aware of the lame truth, yet don’t forget how to embrace the lights that, for sure, ensues.

It only gets better.

Don’t hesitate to seek for help: We need allies.

Elio in “Call Me By Your Name” is so lucky to have such supportive parents.

From now on, why don’t we prepare for all that may happen, and offer a hand before somebody recognize that they even need one?

Sit down, and talk. Respect each other’s stories.

Be open-minded. Be open to the possibilities. Fear the unknown, but at the same time trust the unknown, for it may end up in a brighter future.

Go out there, spark a signal, form a network. When the time comes, you would find wonderful mates who, maybe for the first time, can show you how genuine love transforms people, and motivates people towards better human beings.

Then, it’s undeniably your job to get back to your swamp and spread that wonderful power of healing to the ones in need.

The OA — A Netflix Original Series by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij

“No tree survives alone in the forest. I survived, because I wasn’t alone.” I’m grateful to have found my tribe, and be cultivated by their heavenly lights.

Do I have any fear of speaking the truth?

People say you don’t have to shout out that you’re gay to everyone.

I’d been in that vacuum for years where a young man had no ideas about who he was, and had no one that he thought he could talk to. I tried to hide the “fatal” signs, and day by day moved on with a fake identity. Trying to be straight while at the same time failing to fit in. A glitch. Where did I belong to after all?

Today, I belong to me, and people I care about.

I have the fear, but I also have bigger fish to fry.

It is better to speak than to die. And I take PRIDE in that.

A Pride parade in France — Photo by Margaux Bellott on Unsplash

Right now, while typing these words, I still wonder: what if they think of me as a sick person, or what is the whole point of exposing myself?

To be honest, I’m on my way to liberate myself from those toxic thoughts. And by speaking out loud, I hope it helps heal my fractures in the past, as well as offers a hand to somebody out there.

Final words…

I reserve for you guys a question at the end:

“How did you make me, and people like me feel this way?”

Take your time and think about the possibilities. Don’t take it personally. If only one of you can understand that, and later take just a single action with kindness to anyone you know that maybe in need, I believe my writing then has served its ultimate mission: Make our world a little better place.

Sending massive, massive hugs to those who are always by our sides.

10/07/2021. Al Celadus, inspirado por mi primer amor.

#latebloomer #lovewins #kindnesswins

“Amor Vincit Omnia” — A painting by Caravaggio

“This young Cupid, recklessly painted by Caravaggio, follows Virgil’s saying Amor Vincit Omnia (love conquers all).

He triumphs over science, art, fame, and power, the symbols of which are strewn at his feet: musical instruments, laurel wreath, and pieces of armor.”

— From Daily Art Magazine.

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Hi there, I'm Al Celadus, U23 based in HCMC. Writing is one hobby of mine. I hope you have a good time reading my stories.

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Al Celadus

Al Celadus

Hi there, I'm Al Celadus, U23 based in HCMC. Writing is one hobby of mine. I hope you have a good time reading my stories.

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